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Spokane Tribe Builds Solar-Powered Early Learning Center

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On May 11, the Spokane Tribe of Indians dedicated the Pauline Stearns Early Learning Center, which was named for the only woman to serve on the Spokane Tribe Business Council.

Carol Evans, one of Stearns’ seven children and the tribe’s chief financial officer, said her mother had 30 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

The $1.2 million, 5,300-square-foot center is also the first solar-powered facility on the reservation, which is about 45 minutes east of Spokane, Washington.

According to a press release, the solar panels will “considerably reduce operating costs.” The building is also equipped with energy efficient doors and windows, insulated roof and wall panels and an energy-saving HVAC system.

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Labor for the project was provided under the tribe’s TANF—Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—program.

Tribal member electricians and plumbers were used, and nine of the 40 vendors that supplied services and materials were Native American-owned. According to the HUD Highlights E-Newsletter, 95 percent of the work was done by apprentice carpenters.

The center will meet educational, economic, social and health care needs for the tribe. There will be on-site health screenings, nutritional food provided for children, nutrition information for parents, and the curriculum incorporates physical activity.